Avian Flu is confirmed in Egypt

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Yesterday February 17, 2006, the World Health Organisation officially declared presence of the H5N1 strain of the avian flu virus in Egypt.

"There is avian flu now in Egypt," Hassan el Bushra, regional adviser for emerging diseases at the eastern Mediterranean regional office of the WHO said. His response was to the reported presence of H5N1 virus in dead birds in three areas in Egypt - namely Cairo, Giza, and Al-Minya.

Today February 18, 2006, a responsible source from Egyptian ministry of health announced reporting of another 25 cases of infected birds in Al-Minya with aftermath of 35 confirmed cases between birds, yet there are no human cases reported.

Control measures

Egypt has banned the import of live birds and has tightened quarantine controls at airports to keep out bird flu. It has also canceled the annual bird hunting season to minimize contacts between people and migrant birds. In Cairo phone numbers 3912136, 3907147, and the hotline 152 have been assigned for reporting any suspected cases. A newly formed unit formed of veterinarians and preventive medicine specialists in Giza actively studying more than 70 reports of dead birds for exclusion of H5N1.

Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Naxif has advised people who breed poultry at their homes to dispose of their birds to prevent the virus from spreading.

"The time has come to get rid of the idea of breeding chickens on the roofs of houses, especially under current circumstances," he said.

Many Egyptian citizens breed chickens and pigeons on the roof of their residences for their own consumption and as a source of extra income.

Despite avian flu mainly being a disease of poultry, it has also infected 171 people, killing 93 of them, and is steadily mutating. If it acquires the ability to pass easily from person to person it could cause a pandemic that might kill millions.